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Celebrating young people at the Elgin Youth Café

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Celebrating young people at Elgin Youth Café

The Elgin Youth Development Group (EYDG) organised a dinner to celebrate the work, commitment and dedication of their young people, volunteers, families and community groups on Saturday night.  Attended by a host of guests some of whom came from outwith the area, Ian McLaughlan, Chief Executive at Youth Scotland commented “It was great to meet so many of the young people involved in The Warehouse at Elgin Youth Café, some of the staff, directors and guests… I was blown away by the leadership shown (and recognised!) especially by the young people and adult volunteers; the staff; and the directors of the charity.”

Speaking about the inspiration for the night, Clair Ferguson, Chief Officer of the charity explained “We wanted to organise an event in our 21st Year which celebrates the amazing achievements of our young people and volunteers. Without the work that they do around the café we would not be able to do what we do.”

On the back of their highly commended award at Moray Young Citizens Award, the charity’s Inspiration Week Team celebrated winning the Kay Ralph Memorial Award which recognises the outstanding impact of young people. While Moray Young Citizen Award Winner Aidan Henderson took home the organisation’s EYDG choice award.

“To win this award for doing what I love is amazing.” Aidan said when reflecting on his win while Emily Burns, a member of the Inspiration Week Team and Community Champion explained what the team win meant to her “It is overwhelming and phenomenal that we got an award for allowing people to hear inspirational stories.”

This ceremony kicks of the organisations 21st year celebrations with more events scheduled later in the year.

Award winners of the night included:

Adult Volunteer of the Year – Jim Walton

Young Volunteer of the Year – Lauren Robertson

Living Well – Jacob Sutherland and Fenella Allen

Leadership Award – Teigan MacLennan

Community Champion – Emily Burns

Outstanding Contribution – Fiona Birse

Inkwell Choice – Baby Steps (Kirsteen Carmichael and Sammy Morrison)

Youth Choice – June McArthur

EYDG Choice – Aidan Henderson

Kay Ralph Memorial Award – Inspiration Week Team 2018

A number of young people also received recognition certificates, including a number of Saltire Awards, which celebrate, recognise and reward the commitment, contribution and achievements of young volunteers in Scotland.

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Moray

Moray CAB launches scam awareness campaign

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Moray CAB launched scam awareness campaign on Monday

Moray Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has joined other CABs across the UK earlier this week to launch this year’s Scams Awareness campaign.

New figures published today by Citizens Advice Scotland show that 46 per cent of people in Scotland have been targeted by scams at least once in the last year. Of these, one in three (30%) was targeted more than three times. The figures are based on a survey carried out for Citizens Advice Scotland by YouGov.

The CAB network’s Scams Awareness campaign runs for the next two weeks and aims to tackle the stigma scam victims often feel about reporting scams. Moray CAB is urging local people who have been hit by a scam to STOP, REPORT, and TALK about it.

Launching the campaign at the local branch, Moray Citizens Advice Bureau Manager Mary Riley, said: “Around half of us have been targeted by a scam in the last year. Some of us have been hit by more than one. Scammers can come at us online, by telephone, or in person. But whether it’s a builder who does shoddy work or someone who sells you fake goods or someone who hacks into your computer or phone and empties your bank account, none of us can afford to lose money to con artists and we all need to stand up to them.

“That’s what this campaign is all about. We want to raise awareness of how scammers operate, and encourage people here in Moray to report them to the police, and also to talk about scams to your friends and family.

“Because scammers depend on us staying silent. So the more we talk about them, the more aware people become, and the harder the scammer will find it to scam the next person.

“So that’s why the theme of our campaign this year is STOP, REPORT, TALK. And that’s my message to people here in Moray. If we all work together we can beat the scammers. It’s time to do that. You can get information on how to spot scams from Citizens Advice Scotland website www.cas.org.uk or here at the CAB 6 Moss Street, Elgin, IV30 1LU.”

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Moray

Local solar company celebrates 40th birthday with national awards

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Cameron Duncan and Josh King from AES Solar with their awards (Collect)

Forres-based company AES Solar was named best in Scotland after winning PV (Photo Voltaic) Installer and Contractor of the Year at the Energy Efficiency Awards 2019.

A Scottish business which prides itself on being the longest established solar company in Europe, has now proved it is also the best in country.

AES Solar was named Solar PV Installer and Contractor of the Year at the Energy Efficiency Awards in Glasgow on Friday night. The specialist solar panel company also received a commendation in the Vulnerable Customer Support category, recognising the designated AES Solar helpline offering free advice in light of recent solar scams.

The prestigious awards come less than two months after a regional award win where the company won a Best Energy Efficiency in House Design or Build title. This achievement recognised AES Solar for its work on a remote property in the West Highlands, featured on Channel Four’s Grand Designs House of the Year in 2018.

It adds to what has become a busy year of celebrations for the company which has been successfully trading for 40 years.

George Goudsmit, managing director, said: “Every day we strive to be the best in the business, and these accolades show that those efforts have paid off. We were up against tough competition, and to win this award makes us proud to have built a team that truly is the best.

“This is the icing on the cake for our birthday year. Three awards in the space of two months is good news for our customers too. They can be confident that from beginning to end they are dealing with a professional, industry-leading company, whether they are a single domestic user or a large housing developer.

AES Solar is the only manufacturer of solar thermal panels in Scotland, employing 15 people at their head office in Forres with a recently opened Edinburgh branch to meet the growing Central Belt demand.

Technical director Campbell MacLennan added: “We started in 1979 by designing and manufacturing solar thermal panels. Over the years solar PV evolved, becoming more widespread and cost-effective. We have continuously adapted to these changes in the marketplace, reflected in our position as multi-award winning industry experts.

“These awards are a fitting recognition, and a reward for always striving towards the highest quality of products and workmanship. These awards are only strengthened further by our MCS and ISO 9001 accreditation, which we’ve held for more than 10 years. This can provide our customers with the high level of confidence they require. We really are the solar specialists and wouldn’t be where we are today without the dedication and expertise of our excellent team.

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Moray

No agreement reached in Findhorn wildfowling talks

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Moray Council is withdrawing its support in facilitating a permit scheme for wildfowling in Findhorn Bay.

Mediation, which the council agreed to in June last year (as reported by insideMORAY http://www.insidemoray.com/wildfowling-mediation-to-begin/), began in autumn 2018.

A statement released by Moray Council last week stated that: “although significant progress was made, a final agreement could not be reached between all interested parties. It was expected that, if negotiations were successful, it would be the precursor to a further voluntary permit scheme being operated in the next season at the local nature reserve.

“However now the Council will step back until an agreement has been reached between the parties involved in the negotiations, which came after a poor uptake of voluntary permits in the 2017/18 season. Just 23 permits were applied for, out of an estimated 100 local wildfowlers.”

Chair of Moray Council’s Economic Development & Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Graham Leadbitter, said: “Regrettably mediation has concluded without any satisfactory resolution. As a council we have invested thousands of pounds in this process to date, but as this latest attempt has been unsuccessful we are faced with no other financially-viable alternative. We will withdraw our support in facilitating a permit scheme and won’t be in a position to re-engage until a way forward can be agreed.

“I would like to thank all involved for their co-operation so far, but urge them to continue to work towards a compromise.”

Following the final meeting with the Council, the Friends of Findhorn Bay made the following statement: “Friends of Findhorn Bay are deeply disappointed by the results of today’s meeting, after months of negotiations, which absorbed hours and hours of stakeholders’ mostly unpaid time. There was significant headway and mutual agreement made.

“We hope that a way forward can be found, so that the time stakeholders put in, and money spent by the Council, will not have been wasted. We appreciate the Council’s determined effort to solve this ongoing problem to date, but believe they must still take responsibility, as this is a problem which greatly impacts upon the local population and wildlife in the reserve. It is not going to go away.”

Lisa Mead, Lead Petitioner for the petition calling for a wildfowling ban submitted to Moray Council in December 2015, commenting in a personal capacity, put it a little stronger: “The Council’s tactic of trying to broker voluntary shooting restrictions by seeking agreement between shooters, conservationists and local residents was flawed from the start.

“The four shooting groups involved in the mediation took full advantage of the fact that they could simply continue to argue amongst themselves and never agree on the best way forward, as a way to avoid committing to any shooting restrictions. They did this not once but three times, at great financial expense to Moray Council and at the practical expense of local people’s wellbeing, because the shooting disturbance, the plastic littering and the dog fouling in our Local Nature Reserve continues.

“Unacceptable behaviour of this kind requires a legal response, not ‘voluntary arrangements’. Moray Council should have shown proper leadership from the beginning, by promoting a legally enforceable byelaw, rather than continually making excuses for not doing that.”

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Moray

Elgin first International Music Festival kicks off this weekend

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Festival organiser Magdalena Wellenger

Elgin’s first International Music Festival, Elgin Summer Music, will be taking place this weekend, 8 and 9 June, with events at the Cathedral on Saturday and at the Town Hall on Sunday.

Organised by Magdalena Wellenger through her Elgin-based music school, Elgin Summer Music is an initiative to support schools, community groups and other organisations focused on art and music education, and to raise the prestige of cultural life in our region.

Magdalena has invited groups from schools and organisations around Moray to take part, encouraging classical, folk and movie soundtrack themed performances.

“This year we are hosting: a folk group from Kazakhstan, internationally known Scottish button accordionist Graeme Mackay, Fiona Mary Elizabeth Kyle with her beautiful harp, harp groups from Feis Moray, the woodwind orchestra from Gordonstoun, piano students from Wellenger School of Music, a local gaelic choir and many more.”

These events are also designed to make the most of our local facilities and historical heritage: making sure people can engage with and enjoy our surroundings here in Elgin and celebrating the effort made by the people who make them work.

Further information and tickets available online at www.wellengermusic.com

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Moray

Community has a say on recent wildfires

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Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, held a public meeting at the Houldsworth Institute in Dallas last Monday night about the recent local wildfires.

Mr Lochhead was joined by Bruce Farquharson from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Moray police Area Commander Norman Stevenson and his colleague Inspector Kelly McPhail, as well as Denise Reid, Area Manager from SNH, who gave an outline of the key issues and took questions from the public on recent events.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Lochhead said: “This was a very well attended public meeting and the community were first and foremost keen to thank the emergency services, estate staff, gamekeepers, forestry staff and other volunteers for all their efforts in tackling the recent wildfires.  People were clearly taken aback by the scale of the wildfires.

“A big part of the discussion was the fact that we should expect more wildfires locally in the future because of the changing climate and the long dry summers that we’re set to have.

“Some of the key issues raised focused on how we can better prepare and what we can put in place now so that volunteers and resources are co-ordinated efficiently.  There’s clearly a need to look at how the use of helicopters are co-ordinated as they are a vital part of tackling wildfires, and we also need to ensure that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has the equipment they need to deal with these kind of incidents.

“The big picture is that the authorities were able to reassure the public that there is currently a major ‘lessons learned’ exercise underway, which will look at the response to the recent wildfires and how they can ensure they’re better prepared for wildfires in the future.

“It’s really important that the authorities were able to hear directly from the public and those who live in the areas affected.  There is still a lot of work to be done and issues to be look at however, in terms of engaging with the community I feel this was a good starting point.”

Moray Councillor and Chair of Police and Fire and Rescue Services Committee, Paula Coy added: “It was a well-attended meeting giving all an opportunity to voice their experiences and concerns going forward. With climate change a reality it is clear that these fires may well become more commonplace and it’s good to see communities work together with the emergency services and other agencies.

“For me, the most welcome aspect of this event, one of the largest wildfires in Scotland, has been the pretty much universal praise given to the Fire Service, estate workers, Scottish Forestry, windfarm employees and SNH for their efforts and collaboration.

“It was particularly good to hear our  MSP praise our retained fire-fighters who had to take considerable time away from their other jobs. It’s a real commitment for them and their employers and we are all so grateful.”

Councillor for Speyside Glenlivet, Louise Laing said: “The public meeting was very positive and it was good hear the views of the community and emergency services. Unfortunately it seems more fires like this are to be expected with climate change playing a part. As this was one of the biggest fires of this nature, usually seen in the Mediterranean, that we’ve seen in Scotland, we really need to take more precautions against fire risks and also climate change.”

Forres Councillor Aaron McLean added: “The public meeting was a great learning exercise for myself and was very informative on the role of not just the Fire Service but also that of estate workers and volunteers who assisted during the recent wildfires. There is plenty to work on going forward and I will be keeping a close eye on next steps and also how the council can assist other agencies.”

In a separate development, commenting after visiting the site of the recent wildfires near Dunphail on Friday, Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “Seeing the extent of the damage from the wildfire at first hand reinforced my understanding of the difficult job faced by firefighters, estate workers and volunteers who all came together to bring the wildfires under control.

“As a result, I am re-doubling my efforts to get answers to questions that constituents have raised with me following the wildfire.

“We also need reassurances that everything possible is being done to prevent a reoccurrence of these fires and to ensure that we have all the necessary resources available in Moray, should they be needed again in future.”